Is your resource management process not what it used to be? Maybe you’re noticing more mistakes or resourcing conflicts. Or perhaps you’re experiencing more project delays these days. If so, it might be time to revamp the way in which you’re managing project resources.
We’ll help you spot where you might be going wrong along the way. Plus, provide some actionable tips on how to set your resource management process back on course.
How to Spot Resource Management Flaws
Simply start by asking yourself one simple question. What would you like to see be differently?
It’s kind of like going to the doctor. Since you can’t get your diagnosis without looking at the symptoms. So find the root by following these steps:
- Try to pinpoint the following: What’s exactly is going on? What causes you the most stress? Where do projects get stuck? And how do things usually get done at your organization?
- Now write down all the steps in that go into your resource management process. It might be that this process is so automated in our heads that sometimes we don’t even notice where we are going wrong. However, once the steps you take – from taking on a new project, to forecasting, and analyzing the progress at the end – are in front of you, it’s easier to spot a problem.
- Finally it’s time to look at other factors. Think about every stakeholder. How exactly people collaborate. How information is exchanged. As well as how transparent and understandable the process is.
Solving the Most Common Resource Management Flaws
Once you’ve gone through all the factors, you’ll probably see a few glaringly obvious factors that are contributing to the inefficiency of your project success or lack of productivity. Here’s a few of the most common problems with a few tips on turning it all around.
Flaw #1: Bottlenecks in the Project Schedule
A new project is taken on. Yay! But you notice that without your input, the sales team has agreed on a date when the project should be completed. And, even when scheduling it, you see that there are obvious resource conflicts. But you carry on. Trying to do your best to move the date forward on the timeline.
If you are lucky, the project may only be postponed for a week or two. It won’t solve all the conflicts, but eases some. But then more problems start creeping up. Problems you can’t shake.
More projects will fall behind schedule. And any new projects taken on that will be doomed from the moment they’re scheduled. There’s too much work to be done, the resources are overwhelmed, and it seems like nothing is going right.
How to solve it:
Sometimes there isn’t much you can do about how many resources you have on hand or the project deadline. Better break out that PMBOK because it’s time for some resource smoothing and resource leveling.
If it’s not possible to move the deadline, then your resources will need to take on the load. But priorities need to be set (more on that in a minute). Scheduling concurrent tasks might be the answer for this.
With concurrent task scheduling, you can decide how much effort should be placed on different tasks. If your IT department sees they need to be putting 90% of their effort into one project and only 10% into another, it’s pretty clear where their focus needs to be.
Concurrent tasks make it easy for PMs and their team members to prioritize what needs to get done. And is just about the most effective form of multitasking you can find.
Flaw #2: Lack of Priorities
It’s a typical day and a resource conflict appears. This time, 2 managers have booked the same piece of equipment. Surprise-surprise, it cannot be at two places at the same time and there isn’t another tool with the same capabilities.
Now, if there were project priorities, the project portfolio manager can easily decide who’ll get the equipment first, and who’s going to figure something else out. If there aren’t any priorities, it’s a no-man’s land. There will be email threads and phone calls. Frustration with the process and with the team. And yes delays that might even end in project failure.
How to solve it:
A better way to forecast can help you set priorities. Seeing how all your projects work together and evaluating which ones are the most beneficial for your portfolio and organztional growth. Reports can help you accomplish this more strategic resource management, but honestly an easier way is via more visual means.
Visual planning tools help you see and comprehend the big picture a lot better than language and numbers that need to be interpreted. Give your brain a rest for once!
Flaw #3: Poor Overview
According to our client Pure Technologies, the most common resource management process flaws for them stemmed from an incomplete overview of their project portfolio. That’s why when they were looking for a more efficient solution to their human resource and equipment scheduling problems, she knew that real-time updates and simplicity were key.
“We needed a better way to schedule a project so that we could see who would be involved and what equipment would be in use. Especially when teams were coming from three different offices nationwide and equipment was being shipped from anywhere in the country.”
When you’re working with dispersed team members that share a singular resource pool, it’s imperative you have an overview of all available resources. Hell, even if you share an office space it’s still incredibly important to be able to see what resources are available and for how long.
Not to mention other little tidbits that take the stress out of resource scheduling: tracking down a resource’s location, skill set (for people), weight class (for equipment), and any other info necessary for the job.
Flaw #4 Wrong tools
Maybe it’s not what we’re doing, but how we’re doing it.
The most accessible project management tools – spreadsheets – are often what create the most problems. Since spreadsheets are basically a free resource management tool, and probably the most customizable one, it can be difficult to opt for something new. You need to be a master at Excel or find a resource planning template to get things going in the first place.
If you do get things going, you’ll soon find out that the editing process of spreadsheets is not easy nor is it fast. And it’s almost impossible for multiple users to schedule resource at the same time. That kind of problems waste time and create unnecessary resource conflicts.
How to solve it:
Dump Excel and spreadsheets for something better. It might take a bit of time to track down and learn a new piece of software, but don’t let that discourage you. The best way isn’t always the easiest way. But, isn’t this what got you in this mess in the first place?
When updating your software take these steps to ease the transition.
- Read up on some of the best resource planning tools.
- Read reviews of the software.
- Sign up for a free trial.
- Get your team to try it as well.
- Read up on features and processes.
- Ask questions of support or set up a free demo.
- Review and ask for feedback of the team.
More Tips to Improve Resource Management Processes
1. Get a New POV
First things first, if you are planning hundreds of resources, you can’t do it with a single calendar view. You need to divide the general resource plan into manageable bits. In Ganttic, those bits are called Views.
For example, when scheduling a project for a specific department, it can be bothersome to find the resources of that department from the general resource pool. The problem can be fixed with filtering the resources out, selecting the time period that suits the time-interval used for planning in the said department and saving it as a new view for easy access.
Views like that can be created with various characteristics, and all the views are displayed in the list of views.
2. Track Resource Utilization
Utilization tells you how much resources are working. It’s a useful metric that ensures that resources won’t get overbooked or overlooked. And helps solve problems before they even happen.
In Ganttic, you can track your resource utilization in a number of ways – either by how much time they’ve already been scheduled, or how much time they still can be scheduled.
Another useful tip is you can track the utilization via groups. So you can see if a particular project team or department is swamped and if there’s another team that might be able to take on some of the load.
3. Continuous Reporting and Graphs
I don’t think there are many people out there that actually like the process of reporting. But I do know many people who think reporting is a resource management necessity. You can’t have one without the other.
That’s why, in Ganttic, we have made it a bit easier for you. You can send resource reports out automatically. You can also keep an eye on the utilization, busy time, etc continuously in a visually pleasing way using graphs. Use those things to your advantage.
4. Have a Meeting
As annoying as it is, looking people in the eye and talking to them is still the best way to get things done. Just make sure that before you press send on that GCal invite, that your meeting is actually going to be worthwhile and productive for everyone.
Our client Innopolis Engineering says that: “Once a week we meet with each department’s leading engineers. During that meeting, we analyze if there’s a need for reallocating resources. Our other meeting is with project managers. The project managers give an overview of their week and tell me if they need any additional resources or not.”
A face-to-face discussion ensures that lengthy discussions can happen without chasing down the point in a long email thread. Plus, with the right tool in hand means during the meeting, your planning can get done right in the moment and before you forget.
Smoother Resource Management
In order to fix your resource management process, you first have to figure out where the problem lies. If any of these issues are causing problems for your project portfolio it might be time to take the leap to a new resource management solution.
With Ganttic, you’ll have a clear overview of your projects as well as the entire resource pool. Strategize, prioritize, and optimize your resource usage. Fix those flaws and walk away with more successful projects under your belt.
Sign up for a free trial and see for yourself what a difference Ganttic can make on your own resource management process.